Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

How much is your health worth to you? For most people, the answer is quite simple: Everything.

But in this age of “pill and procedure” medicine, many wait until it’s too late to make an investment in their health. And with the rising cost of food, it’s tempting to scrimp and save wherever you can.

I have two important messages for you: (1) The time to invest in your health is now! Not when your quality of life has become compromised. And (2) the good news is that eating high-quality food – the finest Mother Nature has to offer – doesn’t have to break the bank.

Food, like anything, tends to be less costly when it is mass produced. Producing it the right way – with care and attention to the environment – often costs more. Still, there are many conventional foods that give you the same nutritional bang for the buck as organics. At the same time, there are some “superfoods” you should be eating – and willing to pay a little more for.

Here’s the scoop on five of them…

#1: Wild Salmon

Salmon has been heralded for its many health benefits (and deservedly so). The popularity of this fish has created wide demand. And to satiate consumers’ appetites, thousands of fish farms have arisen on the world’s coasts. Unfortunately, in this case, Mother Nature has not been successfully mimicked.

What was once touted as a health food for its robust levels of essential omega-3s has become a fishy substitute at best. At worst, farmed salmon will do you more harm than good. And that’s why I urge you to buy only wild salmon.

How does this superfood turn from friend to foe? Here are the facts:

• Farmed salmon contains endocrine-disrupting PCBs. Farmed salmon are fed fishmeal pellets that concentrate known cancer-causing pollutants called PCBs. While all salmon have some level of PCBs, farmed salmon have seven times higher levels than wild salmon.

• Farmed salmon are lower in powerful antioxidants. Wild salmon dine on krill, which contain a carotenoid called astaxanthin (pronounced: asta-ZAN-thin) – one of the most powerful antioxidants ever discovered. Astaxanthin is also the nutrient responsible for wild salmon’s beautiful red-orange color.

• Farmed salmon are treated with artificial coloring. Because farmed salmon are fed cornmeal, soy, and canola oil – not their natural diet of krill – they are gray in color. They turn pink only when given chemically synthesized astaxanthin or treated with artificial coloring agents.

• Farmed salmon promote inflammation. As a result of their diet, the flesh of farmed salmon contains up to four times the amount of inflammatory omega-6s than the flesh of wild salmon… and far less essential omega-3s.

• Farmed salmon are loaded with antibiotics. Due to the cramped quarters in fish farms, lice and disease spread rapidly. And, in fact, farmed salmon are administered more antibiotics by weight than any other form of livestock.

You can’t afford not to eat wild salmon. It is one of the few fish that is still remarkably unpolluted, it is sustainably harvested, and it’s one of the healthiest proteins you can put on your plate.

The additional cost per serving of wild salmon ranges between $0.50 (Target, Archer Farms brand) to approximately $2.00 (Vital Choice)… a very small price to pay for a huge improvement in quality.

#2: Coffee

If you love coffee, you’ll be glad to know that you can indulge yourself and promote your health too. Coffee is a rich source of age-defying antioxidants, and recent research even suggests it helps prevent Parkinson’s and fight diabetes.

But I have some jolting news. If the coffee you drink is not organic, you’re exposing yourself to cup after cup of high levels of pesticides. Some of the many chemicals commonly used against the “coffee borer” include highly toxic endosulfan, dursban, basudin, and disulfoton.

Get the most out of your morning java by choosing organic, shade-grown coffee. You can find it in most food stores, or buy in bulk online from a company like Cafe Altura. Expect to pay about $11 per pound for organic whole beans versus $7 for conventional whole beans.

#3: Grass-Fed Beef

Beef was once believed to be harmful due to its saturated-fat content. However, research now shows that the real culprit is the extremely high level of inflammatory omega-6 fats that are created when cattle are fed a steady diet of corn. Not to mention the hormones used to hasten the trip of mass-produced beef to the butcher.

Way back when, cattle ate grass. Not corn. And they weren’t pumped full of growth hormones (rBGH) and antibiotics and packed into pens. These few changes have turned a healthful food into one of your body’s worst enemies.

But there is a way to have your beef and stay well too. Choose grass-fed! When cattle graze on their natural diet of grass, they have a healthier lipid profile – with much higher levels of healthy omega-3s and very low levels of inflammation-causing omega-6s. These animals are also naturally healthier, which means they are given antibiotics sparingly and only when necessary.

You can expect to pay about 50 percent to 100 percent more per pound for grass-fed beef, but the higher quality of the meat and many health benefits are worth it. For amazingly sumptuous cuts of the finest naturally raised beef, go straight to the appropriately named source – U.S. Wellness Meats. The company is managed with the same dignity and honesty as the folks who did it “way back when.”

Looking for a bargain? Try buffalo! These animals aren’t kept in pens (Would you want to try to put a buffalo in a pen?) and it’s illegal to give them hormones. That makes buffalo a natural alternative to grass-fed beef that is relatively inexpensive (about $7 per pound) and available in stores nationwide through Maverick Ranch.

#4: Berries

It’s hard to believe that sweet and juicy berries are so chockfull of age-defying, disease-fighting substances. And despite their taste, they are very low in sugar and score low on the glycemic index.

But I do have some bad news to share. Berries are one of the crops most highly contaminated with pesticides. In fact, cherries, strawberries, and raspberries are on the top-12 list of contaminated crops (a.k.a. The Dirty Dozen) that you should always buy organic.

Escaping harmful pesticides isn’t the only reason to choose organic berries. Research shows that organic strawberries, for example, boast 25 percent more antioxidants and more cancer-fighting power than their conventional counterparts.

Expect to pay about $1 to $2 more per pound for frozen organic berries.

#5: Cocoa

The news that cocoa is good for you has folks gobbling it up… like candy. And as long as the cocoa products they choose aren’t packed with sugar or artificial ingredients, they’re probably doing their bodies a big favor.

In addition to its many mood-boosting and heart-healthy compounds, organic, natural cocoa has an antioxidant score higher than that of almost any other food. Measured in ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) units, cocoa’s is around 80,000. Compare that to “antioxidant-rich” blueberries, which have an ORAC of around 6,500.

But before you grab the first box of cocoa you see on the shelf, here’s something you need to know. Most cocoa is “alkalized” – treated with alkali, a harsh chemical base that cuts its considerable antioxidant capacity in half. The solution: Choose organic, non-alkalized cocoa.

NOW Foods makes a delicious organic, non-alkalized cocoa that’s easy on the wallet. At only $5.50 for 12 ounces (versus $3.15 for 8 ounces of Hershey’s), you’ll enjoy higher quality and a more valuable product for less than a dime more per ounce. Mix it into your coffee, whirl it in a smoothie, or add it to low-glycemic dessert recipes.

The Bottom Line

When you invest in your health by spending a little extra on the above superfoods, you’ll get many of the rewards – like more energy, a better mood, glowing skin, and a youthful vibrancy – almost immediately. Later, this investment will pay off by not only increasing your lifespan but your health span too.

Well worth the money, don’t you think?

[Ed. Note: Health should be your top priority – even if that means spending a little more on your food. Fortunately, keeping your body in tip-top condition doesn’t have to be expensive… or difficult.

Do you love dessert, but not the sugar? Health and nutrition expert, Kelley Herring has created an all-natural, low-glycemic chocolate cake mix that is packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants. And the best part is that this totally-good-for-you treat is sinfully delicious. Learn more and try a slice for yourself right here.]

Kelley Herring

Kelley Herring is the Founder & CEO of Healing Gourmet – a multimedia company that educates on how foods promote health and protect against disease. As a young adult, Kelley battled a debilitating health condition that went misdiagnosed by multiple doctors for more than a year. Finding no help from “modern medicine”, she turned to her own knowledge of biochemistry and her passion for health research. She soon learned that her symptoms were related to nutrition and within weeks, she charted a course back to health with nothing more than simple lifestyle changes and the power of the plate. The lessons she learned spawned the creation of Healing Gourmet. Kelley is a firm believer in vigorous exercise, moderate sun exposure and delicious, healthy, home-cooked meals. She is also the creator of Healing Gourmet’s Personalized Nutrition Software and Editor-in-Chief of the Healing Gourmet book series published by McGraw-Hill including Eat to Fight Cancer, Eat to Beat Diabetes, Eat to Lower Cholesterol and Eat to Boost Fertility.